Stage set for WAFL clash

THERE will be some familiar Great Southern faces floating around for Claremont next Saturday when the Tigers take on South Fremantle for the West Australian Football League’s commemorative match at Centennial Stadium.

Claremont head coach Darren Harris visited the venue last week and said there would be a strong contingent of former Great Southern players making the trip down.

“A few of our Great Southern players have really come along,” Mr Harris said.

“Bailey Bennett is doing really well and playing really well; Matty Palfrey is due to come off suspension and will play soon.”

Following an inspection of the facilities and playing surface at Centennial Stadium, Harris said he was impressed with the ground.

“You just look at the surface and it’s fantastic,” he said.

“You must be very proud of the facility you have down here.

“It’ll be great to see a big crowd out here watching a great game of WAFL.”

The Tigers will head into the match with a mixed bag of results following an opening round loss and last weekend’s slender four-point victory over East Fremantle, 83-79.

South Fremantle got their season off to a good start, beating West Perth 96-88.

“We’re taking steps in the right direction, but our first game left us a bit disappointed,” Harris said.

“We’ve been working really hard ahead of our Albany game to make our efforts more consistent.”

As a nod to the relationship with the Great Southern Football League as a catchment zone for budding WAFL players, the Tigers will run clinics during their visit.

“We want to do some community work before the game, so the clinics will be great for every kid to get along to,” he said.

Mr Harris said he hoped his club would be able to return more frequently to the region.

“We’ve had a long history down here, so to come down and bring the Albany boys is a great way to give back the community,” he said.

“It’s my understanding that there are plans in motion between the WAFL and the City to make this an annual event for the club.”

Game day proceedings start at 9am on April 28, with kick-off for the main match at 2.40pm.

Tickets will be available at the gate.

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Half-million milestone

OUT of all the applications for funding the Albany Community Foundation has received since its inception four years ago, one sticks in the mind of founding chairman Tae Wood.

Chatting to The Weekender about the foundation reaching the half a million-dollar fundraising mark, Mr Wood revealed a story about a seven-year-old boy the foundation recently helped.

“He’s lived with his grandmother since his parents were incarcerated,” he said.

“His mother is in jail in Perth, so we help fund his visits to Perth and support his counselling.

“It resonated with me as I have children of my own, and it’s hard to see children affected by things out of their control.”

Mr Wood’s fundraising efforts, along with the 30-odd members who currently sit on the Albany Community Foundation (ACF) board, have seen many other disadvantaged individuals and families rise up from the ashes of their hardship and flourish once again.

ACF was the brain child of Mr Wood and a small group of other community members in 2013 who wanted to support local individuals and families who had fallen on hard times, and whose needs could not be met by other charities.

“We do it because we feel we live privileged lives, and it’s our responsibility to give back to the community,” Mr Wood said.

“We’ve been very lucky in that we’ve been strongly supported by the community, and the only challenge we’ve faced is trying to meet the needs of the community; we receive around 20 applications per month.”

ACF’s $500,000 – a combined kitty raised from Bogan Bingo nights, gala balls, quiz nights and $1000 per year board memberships – has helped fund extra curricula activities for disadvantaged students, PCYC’s Ice Breakers program, Albany local Kenny McGonnell’s recovery bike after he was left wheelchair bound following a motorbike accident, the Great Southern Mental Health Unit and Shalom House.

“Shalom House was our first successfully funded application,” Mr Wood said.

“It was absolutely amazing; it’s a very worthy cause and we were very proud to give away our first dollars to them.”

Mr Wood said ACF was proud of reaching its recent $500,000 milestone and would continue its fundraising efforts well into the future, with the aim of becoming the South West’s leading organisation promoting philanthropy.

If you would like to donate to ACF or find out more about becoming a board member, email donate@acfwa.com.au.

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Barker gnomes rehomed

A NUMBER of gnomes have been removed from the Mount Barker roundabout due to fears they may stymie a public consultation process on the future of the circular intersection, and compromise safety on Albany Highway.

A solitary gnome appeared on the roundabout a fortnight ago, followed by half-a-dozen others that joined it in greeting southbound motorists to the Shire of Plantagenet’s largest town.

Then, one day the gnomes disappeared.

Acting Shire CEO John Fathers revealed it was he who arranged for “8 or 9 gnomes” to be removed and placed in protective custody at the shire.

“I got them taken away because I didn’t want to see a proliferation of gnomes on the roundabout given the council is going out to public consultation about what it wants to have seen on the roundabout,” he said.

“The more people put things like that into the roundabout, the more people are going to be disappointed when we have to take them away.

“And I didn’t really want to encourage people to park up on a major intersection of Albany Highway and put themselves to any danger.”

Mr Fathers said one owner had fronted up with a small amount of “bail money” to spring a gnome from the council clink, and that the cash would be donated to charity.

“We’ve had one of the owners come back and pick theirs up,” he said.

“I think she took away about three that she identified were hers.

“We’ll just hold them in the office and are quite happy to give them back to the owners if they come and collect them.”

A month-long consultation period on the roundabout’s aesthetics, foreshadowed a while back by The Weekender (‘Barker roundabout action’, February 10), will start this week.

“It’s a pretty important entry for the shire,” Mr Fathers said.

“It is amazing; everyone has an opinion on it.”

He said that whatever gets decided for the roundabout, the aim will be to have it “present a good image for Mt Barker”.

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Albany is the most generous

ALBANY folk give more of their income to charity than people from anywhere else in regional Western Australia, private sector research reveals.

The latest iteration of the National Australia Bank Charitable Giving Index shows that, in the year to February 2018, residents of Albany’s 6330 postcode donated 0.2 per cent of their income to charity.

That might not sound like much, but it meant Albany was the fourth most generous postcode in the state, behind the Perth locales of Beaconsfield/South Fremantle, East Fremantle and Inglewood.

The index compiles de-identified electronic spending data from NAB customers who donate to large charities including RSPCA, The Salvation Army, Oxfam and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

As such, cash donations and volunteer labour, associated with such fundraising endeavours as those of Weekender columnist Brendan Carson, are not included.

Dr Carson wrote a book, Heartline, which he is selling to fund the purchase of medical equipment at Albany Health Campus.

“Wow, how good is that?” he said of Albany’s impressive standing on the NAB generosity ladder.

“It does not surprise me.

“You go around and live in a beautiful place and it makes you feel good about everybody.”

Dr Carson said Albany people had been “stunningly supportive” of his fundraising.

“They have given their time and their enthusiasm, and we’ve had donations,” he said.

“The support has been overwhelming.

“It’s been lovely; they’re good people.”

He said sales of the book had gone very well, and raised enough to fund a mobile cardiac monitor for the hospital.

Aside from Albany, the only postcodes in regional WA to crack the Top 20 were Margaret River (6285) where residents donated 0.18 per cent of their income, and the Esperance suburb of Castletown (6450) where locals chipped in 0.17 per cent.

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In-home care goes round-the-clock

THE Hall and Prior group that operates Albany’s Clarence Estate aged care home will receive $702,267 to start up an around-the-clock in-home nursing service for the city’s palliative care patients.

Last year, The Weekender (‘Stay-at-home palliative care’, November 2, 2017) revealed the WA Country Health Service was seeking operators to bid for the new service that it anticipates will benefit up to 60 patients a month.

Now, The Weekender has learned that Hall and Prior was judged the best of four submissions for the project, and will start delivering the nursing service to homes around Albany for three years from May 1.

The company will take over from Silver Chain, which for the past 20 years has provided a palliative care service on behalf of WACHS.

WACHS Great Southern Regional Director David Naughton said Albany residents of all ages requiring palliative care would be able to access the service.

WACHS has informed medical practitioners, current palliative care patients, families and carers of the change in service provider.

Mr Naughton said the new service would provide patients and carers with better support, and allow patients to die in their own home where possible, if that was their desire.

The WACHS Great Southern Regional Palliative Service, based at Albany Health Campus, can be contacted on (08) 9892 2380.

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Road repairs a crack-up

ROADWORKS along Albany’s Middleton Road have come under fire after a Middleton Beach resident said his car was damaged due to the road’s poor condition and poor traffic management.

Rory Laurens said he used Middleton Road every day to get to work, and recently hit a large unmarked pothole filled with water that he said was not visible until “it was too late”.

Mr Laurens said the impact cracked one of his tyre rims, leaving him $400 out of pocket.

“I was pretty angry,” he said, reinspecting the damage during an interview with The Weekender.

“I still am. It’s frustrating and really disappointing that it’s taken them this long to do anything about this road.

“I have to replace bushings and tyres on my car because of how much wear and tear the potholes on this road have caused.”

He said he doubted the $2 million resealing project would improve the state of Middleton Road.

He pointed out a series of exposed inspection lids along the road that do not sit flush.

The worst one, he said, is located on the corner of Middleton Road and Suffolk Street – the main exit from Albany Primary School.

The inspection lid is unavoidable when turning left off Suffolk Street, as it is located close to the centre of the lane.

Mr Laurens said drivers would be forced into the oncoming lane to avoid the unmarked hazard.

“It’s so dangerous, it’s definitely a safety hazard,” he said.

“Can you imagine if a moped hit that?

“You could fall off or crash.”

The roadworks project began in January and the City had expected it to be finished by the end of this month.

Now, Executive Director for Infrastructure and Environment Matthew Thomson says works will not be complete until mid to late May.

“Unforeseeable conditions with respect to the drainage infrastructure have resulted in a delay,” he said.

“The improved road will include a new asphalt surface, with 1.5 to 2m wide cycle lanes [that] will be red to provide improved delineation for cyclists.

“The existing surface had reached the end of its life and the new surface will extend the expected the life of the road by 30 to 40 years.”

Mr Thomson said a 40kph speed limit and roadworks signs were in place in the area.

He said the exposed inspection lids would be made flush with the road once roadworks were complete.

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Employment trade-off

COLES says it would employ more people at its two Albany stores if the city council allowed it to trade longer.

A spokesperson for the Wesfarmers-owned retailer said extending Albany’s shopping hours would give customers greater convenience.

“We believe deregulated shopping hours in Albany would benefit Coles customers and result in additional local employment opportunities across our two stores,” the spokesperson said.

“Coles welcomed the extended shop trading hours previously granted across various public holidays and the 2017/18 Christmas period.

“These extended hours were well received by our customers, providing them with greater convenience, choice and flexibility.”

Coles, along with Woolworths and potentially ALDI, are locked out of Sunday and late-night trading except for Thursday nights, while Albany’s three supermarkets in the national IGA network are permitted to trade on Sundays and every night of the week.

In response to questions from The Weekender, a spokesperson for Australian-owned Woolworths said the company “welcomes the general liberalisation of trading hours, as we believe it would provide our customers with greater choice and convenience”.

A spokesperson for German-owned ALDI – conspicuous by its absence from Albany given it has supermarkets in the regional centres of Australind, Bunbury, Busselton, Mandurah and Northam – said the company was “eager to bring our unique shopping experience to more Western Australians”.

“We are continually reviewing and updating our network plans and Albany has been recognised as a potential long-term future opportunity,” the spokesperson said.

“When deciding on locations for ALDI stores, trading hours are an important factor we take into consideration.

“It is our preference to be able to offer customers convenient shopping hours.”

Albany Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Caroline Hayes said her association had always supported every business’s right to trade whenever they like.

“We [cover] everything from your small, your micro businesses through to relatively large businesses,” she said of the Chamber’s membership base.

In July 2016, six city councillors – including current ones Paul Terry, Ray Hammond, Bill Hollingworth and Alison Goode – narrowly voted down a plan by city tourism development manager Matt Bird that in 2019 the council consider consulting the community on extended shopping hours.

The plan was rejected just six councillors to five, with recently defeated councillors Janelle Price and Nicolette Mulcahy the other two who opposed it.

Yesterday, Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington refused to comment on whether extended trading could help or hinder employment in his city, as he was the proprietor of a shop.

Subsequent efforts close to deadline to contact the only other person authorised to speak on behalf of the city, CEO Andrew Sharpe, were unsuccessful.

Owner of the York Street and Spencer Park IGAs Paul Lionetti declined to comment on potential employment impacts of liberalised trading hours.

North Road IGA proprietor Bob Cybula referred The Weekender to a spokesman who did not return calls.

Albany is the only place in the south-western corner of the continent where Coles and Woolworths are prohibited from trading on Sundays and most weeknights.

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Youth celebrated across region

THE Great Southern will celebrate its young whippersnappers next weekend with three big festivals in Albany, Denmark and Katanning.

Albany’s YouthFest Music Festival will be held at the town square on April 21 and City of Albany Youth Development Officer Lesley Yates said visitors, restricted to ages 12 to 25, can expect a line-up of fantastic local talent and awesome music.

“We want young people to feel like Albany is somewhere they would like to continue to live, work, play and study and that they are valued for their diversity and talents,” she said.

“Youth services and agencies will engage with young people at key locations throughout the event through positive and fun activities.

“It is ultimately a celebration of young people.”

Ms Yates said the event was put together with the help of Albany’s Youth Advisory Council, and that there would be dancing, lawn games, face painting, an InstaBooth, Wi-Fi, phone charging ports and food vendors at the event, opening at 5pm and closing at 9pm.

Katanning’s Great Southern Youth Festival will also be on April 21, at the Katanning Leisure Centre.

From 2pm to 5pm, attendees – restricted to ages 11 to 25 – will be able to enjoy free entry, food stalls, live music, bubble soccer, a dunk tank, a rock climbing wall, sumo suits and sporting activities.

The 4Youth Denmark Fest will keep the party spirit going all weekend, scheduled for April 22 at McLean Oval.

From 11am to 4.30pm, there will be skateboarding clinics, demonstrations and a competition, a silent disco, art workshops, henna and glitter tattoos, Thai massage, bubble soccer, free Wi- Fi and food.

The Denmark event welcomes the whole family, particularly with the concert at 1.30pm featuring talent from Denmark and surrounds.

To find out more about the Great Southern’s youth festival events, check out the respective shire or city websites.

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Time for clock work

KATANNING’S town memorial clock, built more than 60 years ago, is about to undergo a facelift to restore it to its original condition.

A Shire of Katanning spokesperson confirmed the works were about to commence and are expected to cost about $3000, which would come out of the Shire’s wallet.

The works are due to be completed by mid this year.

The spokesperson said the clock mechanism had been problematic for the past 15 years and in need of a full restoration.

The restoration will include rebuilding the clock mechanism cabinet that has been chewed by termites, cleaning and repairing the mechanism at the base of the tower, cleaning and repairing the clock hand mechanism, repainting and reinstalling the clock face and hands, refurbishing electrical components where required and replacing the lights on the clock face.

The clock was built to commemorate the pioneering women of Katanning, and was unveiled in 1956 by Sister Elizabeth Grover after a year’s contruction.

Sister Grover was the oldest surviving daughter of William Grover, one of the first settlers in the Shire.

According to the Heritage Council of Western Australia, the clock cost the town 1458 pounds, nine shillings and eight pence to build.

A local jeweller and watchmaker, a Mr LFW Quartermaine, won the contract of maintaining and supervising the clock in 1955, for which he was paid 10 pounds a year.

The clock is one of two of its kind in the public realm; the other is located in Parliament House in Perth.

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Drivers reminded on slow-mo law

A CEMENT truck that caught fire while travelling from Mount Barker to Manjimup on Tuesday provided a timely reminder for passing motorists to observe Western Australia’s new slowdown law.

Officer in charge of Cranbrook police station Laurie Seton said the truck, owned by a Mount Barker company, was being driven to the firm’s Manjimup office along Muir Highway.

“The driver became aware of smoke coming from the rear of the truck, and she pulled over, stopped and tried to put the fire out but she wasn’t able to,” Sergeant Seton said.

“So two local bush fire brigades – from Rocky Gully, and Unicup, I think it was – put the fire out.”

Sgt Seton said Cranbrook cop shop received a call about the fire at 6.20am.

He said that while traffic at the scene – about 15km west of Rocky Gully – was sparse, observance by passing motorists of the slow-down law helped ensure a potentially dangerous situation did not escalate.

“The problem with the new slo-mo laws; they’re brilliant laws, but uptake on them has been very slow,” he added.

“Truckies are the best; with them we’ve probably got 60 to 70 per cent take-up on it, but everyone else, not nearly as good.

“We pull vehicles over on Albany Highway, and we’d be lucky if one in 20 slows down.”

Sgt Seton said delays to getting a heavy recovery vehicle to the site from Albany meant the truck was stranded on Muir Highway until about 11am.

He urged motorists seeing stationary emergency vehicles with emergency lights activated on their side of the carriageway to slow down to 40kph.

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